Who Designed These Experiences?


Ad this week for a mobile phone: No mention of the original price. A photo, and “Save $199.”

Any phone I can save $199 on is probably one that I will feel like I can’t afford (no, it’s not for the one you’re thinking of).

If you know the thing is bloody expensive and you don’t want to tell me how much, try “Save 40%.” That at least gives me the hope that I can afford it, and an understandable measure of how great your deal is. I’m listening.

If it’s something that I understand what ballpark the price is in (like, say, a Mercedes), you can try “Save $12,000.” Why doesn’t it work here? Mobile phone prices are all over the place. “Save $199” could mean “Pay $49,” or it could mean “Pay $369.” The phrasing just worries me into wondering how many dollars you began with, that you can afford to shave off 199 of them. No sale.


I got a “special friends” discount letter for [Big Department Store] when my parents were in town a while back. Knowing how infrequently they get to any metro area, I suggested they hit the store and do a little damage while I was at work. Dad wrinkled his nose. “I know how that company works. It’s 20% off everything, except all the brands and departments you want.”

No restrictions, it said. I showed him the shopping pass. I’m a special friend, after all. Not a single trick in sight.

Still, he’s seen so many of their passes in the newspaper that he refused to believe it. Mom and Dad did no damage at Big Department Store while in tax-free Delaware, because of the damage BDS has done to their reputation over the years, with their meaningless discounts.

More on discounts and promotions:

Put a Cork in the Fine Print

How You Can Get Me to Jump Over my Granny

Giving the Cow Away, but the Milk’s Not Free!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson